-By Warner Todd Huston
Like all too many Americans TIME Magazine proves that it doesn’t know what is worth celebrating, noting, or memorializing in this world. Time doesn’t know what “important” means, it doesn’t know what “influential” means, it doesn’t even know what “top” means. And it has proven this again with its latest “2011 TIME 100 most influential people in the world.”
Another actress, Blake Lively, a “B” actress at best, is on the list. Unbelievable. TIME has so little to say of this “most influential person” that barely a paragraph was offered about her. How influential can you be if your whole life can be summed up in a mere 65 words? Mark Wahlberg is there? Yeah, the one-dimensional actor Mark Wahlberg is on this list for some crazy reason. Why? Who the heck knows?
Singer/songwriter Patti Smith is on the list, too. Evidently TIME thinks she’s still big stuff. What has she done since the 1970s again? One would be excused for imagining that she died 20 years ago she’s so disappeared from the greater cultural attention span.
Also on this absurd list is — and this should make anyone laugh out loud — MSNBC’s faux conservative Joe Scarborough.
Let’s take a look at the guffaw worthy addition of low-rated TV talker Scarborough, he of the extremist left-wing cabler MSNBC. Joe’s presence on this list is inexplicable, not just because he is a TV talking head but because he is one of TV’s lowest rated talking heads.
Now, being a TV (or radio) talking head does not disqualify someone for inclusion on such a list, exactly. For good or ill, being a major media figure most certainly can lead to wielding great influence. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly are examples of current commentators that have quite a bit of influence. In his day so did Walter Cronkite. Even someone like Father Coughlin (for worse) during WWII days on radio or Edward R. Murrow (mostly not for worse) were highly influential TV/Radio folks of their day that were worthy for inclusion in such a list.
However, Joe Scarborough is not anywhere near as influential or successful as any of those I mentioned above. It is flat out ridiculous to call Joe Scarborough one of the world’s most influential people. It’s pure fantasy.
Listen, these people I just mentioned are fine people. Successful at their work, known well enough by people, sure. But does “acting” and being a TV talking head make a person one of the world’s most influential people? It is idiotic to say so.
It isn’t just the hollow actors, aging singers, and TV personalities that don’t belong on this list, either. Injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords is also on the list. Why? It’s hard to fathom.
Gabrielle Giffords has a compelling story, of course, but to the greater world she is known for nothing but being the victim of a crime. Before being shot she was a virtually unknown Congresswoman. Since her shooting she has yet to do anything especially noteworthy due to her necessary rehabilitation. Further, we have no real idea how that is progressing so we don’t even have her example as something that can inspire us. Maybe she will inspire us someday. I hope she does. But as of right now she is not a “most influential person.” As much as we feel for her and are pulling for her recovery she simply isn’t a major world figure.
There are all sorts of people on this list that don’t belong on a list as vaunted as the 100 most influential people of the world. Take Amy Chua, for instance. She wrote the controversial memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Yes her book is very interesting and yes she has gained a bit more than her allotted 15 minutes of fame. But as worthy as her book is, a most influential person of the world she is not.
Do these people deserve to be better known? I don’t know. I guess so. Why not? But are they worthy of being included in a list of the most influential people in the whole wide world? Nope. Not at all.
Anyway, you can look this list over and find all sorts of people that do not belong on it. It shows that TIME Magazine hasn’t a clue what “influential” really means. It shows how facile the thinking of this Old Media staple really is.